Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why quoting Norwegians is risky for American journalists

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League recently wrote a nasty letter to Bill Moyers -- one of the most competent journalists in the United States -- accusing Moyers of antisemitism and racism.

What was Moyer's crime? For one thing, Moyer's had the audacity to quote a Norwegian doctor! Foxman accused Moyers of
. . . promotion of an individual, the Norwegian doctor in Gaza, who has publicly expressed support for the September 11 attacks.
Moyers responded to Foxman's complaints, writing:
. . . lamentable is your description of my “promotion” of the Norwegian doctor in Gaza when in fact I was simply quoting what he told CBS News: “It’s like Dante’s Inferno. They are bombing one and a half million people in a cage.” The whole world has been able to see for itself what he was talking about, and as one major news organization after another has been reporting, is reeling from the sight.
I can sympathize with Moyers.

Because not only did I refer to the very same Norwegian doctor in Gaza on this blog, I dared to post the entire CBS News video of him (See: Norwegian doctor in Gaza interviewed). Like Moyers, I also neglected to research the Norwegian doctor's views about the 9/11 attacks before posting the CBS News clip. (Nor did I make the effort to determine the Norwegian doctor's position on the Thai monarchy, Burma, Iranian nukes, or whether he prefers tuna salad or lentil soup at lunchtime.)

Rather, I was drawn to what the Norwegian doctor had told CBS News.

Because -- as Moyers noted -- Dr. Mads Gilbert had so eloquently summed up what is completely obvious to anyone following the Gaza war! For example, Gilbert's words had been amply collaborated by the reports I had personally compiled from various bloggers there live in Gaza.

Nevertheless, this incident demonstrates why the vast majority of American journalists report the way they do. Who wants to be smeared? No matter how many Palestinians get slaughtered, no matter the price of American complacency (in terms of US national security and the reputation of the United States -- indeed, the security of Israel itself over the long-haul), it's far better for your journalism career if you just accept the proposition that -- repeat after me -- everything Israel's leaders do is always for the best.

By the way, this is not the first time I have made exactly the same point on this blog for which a renowned American journalist was later subjected to a vicious smear attack.

Hat-tip Greenwald.

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